Xhosa Cole Quartet

K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us

Having completed a 23 date inaugural UK tour in January and February in 2020 and recorded alongside featured artists Soweto Kinch and Reuben James for their first album K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us, Xhosa’s core quartet has already made a substantial impact on the British Jazz Scene. With this flexible and empathetic chordless ensemble the musicians have a freedom to dive into musical explorations of Xhosa’s original compositions as well as contemporary arrangements of an eclectic mix of tunes from the Jazz Cannon.

“But what chops! This was music at a very high level. The Cole/Phelps pairing alone was a revelation. They played off each other with extraordinary empathy, often operating in parallel – not just the usual 3rd or 5th apart, but playing similar lines with subtle, complementary variations. The absence of a chord instrument meant you had to work a little bit harder, as an audience member, to construct the harmony from the band’s individual note choices, but before you knew it, you were hearing the chords in your head. What makes this quartet a proper band is not merely the sheer energy and internal telepathy they have developed but the degree of arrangement that has gone into their repertoire. You could hear it in Ornette Coleman’s upswinger Ramblin’ (a tune beloved of Mornington Lockett, another dyed-in- the-wool bebopper): Owston and Bashford thundered away ominously behind the two bright and breezy leads, and there was a terrific unaccompanied solo by Cole, the others creeping back in one by one. There was also some calypso – in Owston’s arrangement of Darn That Dream, over which Cole played a distinctly Rollins-type solo, and again in the Dizzy Gillespie number And Then She Stopped”

London Jazz news

Jay Phelps

Jay has been one of the leading voices on Trumpet in the UK jazz scene since his time in the original line up of Empirical Jazz. He has received accolades from the Euroradio Jazz Competition and Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Having played alongside the likes of Wyntom Marsalis, Amy Winehouse, Andrew Hill and Nasheet Waits, Jay brings a level of stylistic authenticity and technical mastery which helps to bring this music to life.


James Owston

Fellow Finalist of the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the year, James has become a prominent figure on the Birmingham Jazz scene, having played alongside artists including John O’Gallagher, Jeff Williams, Clark Tracey and Paul Dunmall. James graduated from the Birmingham Royal Conservatoire in 2018 with a 1st class degree in Jazz Performance. “Bassist Owston is a marvellously articulate player” – express and star


Jim Bashford

Jim Bashford is a seasoned, veteran drummer on the UK scene and has been a great mentor to many young musicians coming out of the Birmingham scene for a number of years. Jim has developed and evolved his playing style alongside many legends including Drew Gress, Jean Toussaint and Hillary Jensen.

Xhosa Cole Quartet Live @ The Verdict